HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County has had 30 mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus so far this year, prompting the state to initiate a spraying program tonight and Thursday.
"I blame it on the high heat, quick rain and standing water," Blair County Director of Emergency Services Dan Boyles said Tuesday.
With the mild winter, maybe the mosquitoes got a head start this year, said Ken Boston, who coordinates the county's West Nile virus testing program.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Blair County West Nile Virus Mosquito Program surveillance technician Ken Boston pours water to set a gravid trap near Forever Drive in Hollidaysburg on Tuesday afternoon.
Boston, who traps mosquitoes and sends them to the state for testing, said he has seen a noticeable increase this year in the number of mosquitoes.
"Up to 1,300 in one trap," Boston said.
Of those trapped, 30 have tested positive for West Nile virus, which can cause humans, birds and animals to contract West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in an inflammation of the brain.
The latest positive test results were collected in Altoona, Hollidaysburg, Tyrone, Frankstown, Logan and Snyder townships, the state Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday.
Blair County is one of 39 counties with positive results in this year's West Nile virus testing program. So far this year, no human cases have been confirmed, according to DEP's regional office.
Boston and Boyles said the state's spraying will occur in the Hollidaysburg, Duncansville and Geeseytown areas tonight and in the Altoona and Logan Township areas on Thursday night, between 8 p.m. and midnight. If it's raining during those hours, then the spraying must be rescheduled, Boston said.
The product to be dispensed is Biomist 3+15, at a rate of 1.5 ounces per acre, DEP spokeswoman Lisa Kasianowitz said.
"The product is designed to provide quick, effective control of adult mosquito populations," she said in a news release issued Monday. "The application material has a very low toxicity profile to mammals and is safe for the environment."
While the spraying should make a difference, Boston advised local residents to help reduce the mosquito population by eliminating sources of stagnate water which can include containers, discarded tires and swimming pool covers.
The state covers the cost of the West Nile testing and spraying efforts.